HDMI vs Component - Which is best for HDTV?

I see the question, “Which is best HDMI or component video for HDTV?”, asked many times in forums and other places on the net.  The answer to that question is “well it depends”. Before I state in my opinion which is better, I should give a brief description for each.

An HDMI signal is a pure digital signal similar to DVI with one exception.  HDMI also carries the digital audio signal on the same cable. HDMI and DVI will give you a 100% exact copy of the original video.  This is similar to how your computer sends a file over the internet in a purge digital (or bitstream) format.

Although component video is HDTV quality, it is analog and not digital.  However, this is not necessarily a bad thing as you well see later in this article.  Component video is compossed of three seperate RCA cables that consists of a Luminance (the “Y”, or “green,” channel, representing the total brightness of the image), a Red Minus Luminance (the “Pr,” or “Red,” channel), and a Blue Minus Luminance (the “Pb,” or “Blue,” channel) cable.  Audo is also seperated into two more RCA cables usually colored red and white.

Both HDMI and component video output up to 1080p HDTV. Which means both are extremely well suited for any type of High Definition Device.  And most people will not notice the difference between the two while viewing a pure HDTV video signal.

So which is best?  This really depends on the type of device that will be outputing the video signal and how well the outputing device converts from digital to analog.  It also depends on your TV as well.  Is it a pure digital display such as an LCD or is it an analog type screen such as a CRT.

Lets assume you have an LCD display.  This is a pure digital device so common sense would tell you that HDMI would be the best choice and normally this is definitely correct.  However, if your output device needs to upscale the image it could add digital artifacts that would show up on your pure digital device.  For example, if you have a low end upscaling DVD player you may notice more artifacts such as pixel blur, etc when viewing it via HDMI on your large LCD display.  If that is the case then it might be better if you use component at 480p and allow your higher end LCD TV to do the upscaling.  

HDMI would be best suited when both output and input devices are pure digital.  A good example would be from a computer or a high end video game console.  HDMI will give you a more crips exact image compared to component.  However, again most people probably will not even notice this.

My advice is that if your output device has both connections try them both and look for yourself which looks better to you.  If your new to digital devices you will probably prefer component at first because you may notice artifacts in lower quality signals such as 480i analog broadcasts.  Component tends to hide some of these artifacts depending on how well the analog to digital upscaling technology in the output device is.

Another thing to consider is the length of the cable you will need.  HDMI tends to require short distance where component cables can usually be very long.  Component video is analog so it can pick up interference but, unless the cable is of low quality, this is usually not a problem.

Let us know what you think.  What are your devices and do you prefer HDMI or component with them?

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